Many of the wounded soldiers admitted to the 2nd Northern General Hospital at Beckett Park, Leeds, needed massage treatment and physiotherapy. The Massage Corps was a vital component of the care team.
Letters written by Roslyn Rutherford, a member of the Massage Corps, are published in "Stories from the War Hospital".
NURSES AND VADs
AT BECKETT PARK MILITARY HOSPITAL
Most trained nurses at Beckett Park were members of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) or its sister organization the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS). In 1909, the War Office provided for the setting up of Voluntary Aid detachments (VADs) to fill any gaps which might appear in the territorial medical services. In October 1914, just after the start of the First World War, responsibility for VADs passed to a wartime amalgamation of the British Red Cross and the St John’s Ambulance Association, which provided preliminary training in first aid and nursing. VADs - nicknamed "Vedettes" - began to run their own hospitals and auxiliary units, and at the height of the war in 1915 they were allowed to join the doctors and nurses at military hospitals such as the 2nd Northern General Hospital at Beckett Park in Headingley, Leeds.
A QAIMNS member at Beckett Park was Sister Mary Louise Stollard, who trained at Leeds General Infirmary. Her writings reveal the human misery suffered by the First World War soldiers admitted to the hospital: “They were pathetic, these shell-shocked boys, and a lot of them were very sensitive about the fact that they were incontinent. They’d say ‘I’m terribly sorry about it, Sister, it’s shaken me all over and I can’t control it. Just imagine, to wet the bed at my age!’”
One of the VADs at Beckett Park military hospital was Dorothy Wilkinson, whose list of instructions included standing to attention when spoken to by an officer, Matron or Sister, performing all duties ‘cheerfully and thoroughly’ – these included sweeping, dusting, polishing of brasses, cleaning of tables, baths, sinks and utensils, washing of patients’ crockery and sorting of linen in addition to nursing duties – and avoiding intimate relationships.
Click image to see a list of chapters in the book "Stories from the War Hospital"